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Magnificent celestial event tonight

india Updated: Jul 31, 2009 21:45 IST

Star gazers are for a treat as a magnificent celestial event will be visible in the skies tonight. Lunar occultation of Antares will be visible on Friday night, Nehru Planetarium Director Rathnasree told PTI in New Delhi.

A close conjunction between the Moon and Antares or Jyestha (commonly known as in India), with the relative positioning between the two changing with time, will be seen.

The Antares will be seen to just momentarily disappear behind the Moon and reappear immediately, she said. Antares is a red supergiant star in the Milky Way galaxy and the sixteenth brightest star in the night. Along with Aldebaran, Spica, and Regulus, it is one of the four brightest stars near the ecliptic.

Located some 600 light-years away, Antares is 700 times the size of the Sun, while the Moon is only about 1/4 the
size of the Earth.

The occultation will be seen through south of Delhi and the suburbs of the national capital.

Such graze occultations are very useful when timed accurately, to give information about the contour of valleys and mountains on the Moon, also known as the Lunar Limb Profile, Rathnasree said.

To view the magnificent celestial event a good camcorder, with a little optical zoom will be helpful, besides a pair of binoculars, she said.